Encouragement Newsletter

Welcome, Dear Encouragers!

This month I'm changing things a bit to provide a smorgasbord of tidbits to encourage you through the month of September. Inside this post, you'll find:

  • Encouragement To Go
  • What Does A "Heart Encouraged" Look Like?
  • Spiritual Warfare - Are You Ready?
  • Book Review - Wonderstruck
  • News and Notes

Encouragement To Go

As you move through the month of September, keep these verses handy to stay encouraged. Who knows, God might prompt you to share these with someone who needs a boost!

2_Chronicles_16.9_heartsencouraged.com
2_Chronicles_16.9_heartsencouraged.com

 

What Does A "Heart Encouraged" Look Like?

It’s a heart that:

  • grows a confident hope though evil persists in growing fear  (2 Samuel 22:17-19)
  • believes Jesus calls her his friend  (John 15:15)
  • trusts God is intently listening for her voice  (Psalm 91:15)
  • seeks Jesus for compassionate comfort in her brokenness  (1 Corinthians 1:1-5)
  • stands on the oath and promises of God  (Hebrews 6:17-19)
  • receives power to persevere, endure, and stand firm. (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)

A heart encouraged is not a passive heart. It’s strong, confident, and steadfast. It brazenly leans into the power of life’s storm trusting the Spirit’s power is even stronger. It's a heart focused to perceive the Lord’s presence, anticipating God’s encouragement through the Spirit.

*All verses from New Living Translation

 

When Spiritual Attacks Strike, Be Ready!

The enemy is always on the prowl ready with a spiritual ambush. Knowing this, I still get caught off guard for one main reason: I’m not battle ready. To change this situation, I use mental imagery casting myself as a sheep, guarded by the Chief Shepherd. I assign Satan the role of the wolf, a predator seeking prey. These character assignments remind me I’m in a spiritual fight.

In the Book of John, Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd and we as the sheep, saying, “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy…. The wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.” Satan means to steal and destroy our confidence, hope, trust, peace, rest, and love. Love for Jesus fuels Satan’s anger.

Spiritual attacks are meant to control and damage the believers’ heart. Though the relentless pursuit of the wolf quickly exhausts our resources, not so for the Lord. The Great Shepherd is our greatest source of support and encouragement. The best move sheep can take is to face the wolf, stand our ground, and call on Jesus. Confronting Satan with God’s powerful truths strengthens our position, while diminishing the enemy’s.

Though the attacks attempt to overwhelm us, we attack with God’s Word. Whenever temptations, shame, guilt, or lies of the enemy threaten me, I attack with God’s Word. The enemy cringes at the Word for it’s a sword meant to defeat.

We’re in a battle and we need to bring it to the enemy: our faith as a shield, God’s Word as our sword, and trust in our Strong Shepherd.

John 10:10-12; 1 Peter 5:4; NIV

Spiritual_Warfare_heartsencouraged.com

A Little More on Spiritual Warfare

My friend, Sarah Geringer, writes at Finding Peace in God’s Word has even more to say about spiritual warfare. Check out https://www.sarahgeringer.com/tactics-spiritual-battles/#more-8324

 

Book Review - WONDERSTRUCK: Awaken to the nearness of God by Margaret Feinberg

Powerful, personal stories re-ignite our curiosity and wonder for the Lord. WONDERSTRUCK directs the reader to experience God in new ways. The author creates fabulous imagery our minds and hearts can’t help to embrace. She reminds us intentional curiosity is a path awakening our soul to hear, see, and touch God at any moment.

 

NEWS and Notes

Here's what's going on at Hearts Encouraged! I'm in the process of creating weekly posts called "Heart Lifts" for a Hearts Encouraged Facebook Group I hope to start in January. The purpose of the group is to support one another with encouragement. Every day we're hit with negativity, disaster, and sadness. Whether we live it, or the media projects it into our lives, the constant flow erodes our hope and spiritual fervor. In Thessalonians, we are beckoned to encourage each other. Let's be encouragers and keep our cups full!

To further spread encouragement, I ask you pray for me as I embark on a journey to create a podcast for Hearts Encouraged. I work full-time as an oncology nurse with plenty of opportunity to encourage. But, more is needed. I believe God is calling me to podcasting and your prayers will mean much to keep me on track. Developing a podcast and working full-time will be challenging. Thank you for supporting me in prayer. I'll keep you informed as to the progress. 

Please share your encouragement needs with our community in the comments or on the Hearts Encouraged FB Page. You can also contact me by email at: heartsencouragedministry@gmail.com. 

God is for us, 

Terri

 


God's Power in You

Hello Encouragers! I’m so thankful you’re pausing to take sip of refreshing encouragement. Today, we’re exploring the concept of God’s working power. Let’s discover what it does in us.

God’s Power at Work

Demonstrative. Eruptive. Fierce. Unmatched. This is God’s power. The stroke of God’s hand creates, subdues, destroys, or resurrects. God’s power is always at work.

Followers of Jesus are promised His power is at work within us. Power capable of filling you with inner strength through His Spirit. Describing or defining this power doesn’t do it justice, but I perceive when it’s working in me. I sense it helping my stand against temptations. It beckons me to face another day I’d just as soon not. I can recognize its activation such as when wisdom and words fill my mind and exit my mouth to benefit another.

Then, I forget about it. Somehow, I break the connection thereby moving and living as if I’m powerless. Maybe it’s because I forget Who is empowering me. Who does that?

Me, but not Deborah. I love Deborah and I think you will, too.

Deborah’s story is found in Judges 4 and 5. Here’s an incredible woman, fiercely devoted to God, whose faith rivaled that of King David. A judge, prophet, wife, servant of Israel and more, Deborah possessed strength of character, humility, faith, and wisdom. So highly esteemed by the men and women of Israel, they willingly followed her into battle though a man was commissioned to lead.

How did she do it? How did this woman come to possess leadership, resilience, and the ability to balance multiple callings?

God.

How was she able to succeed in these roles?

God.

Where did her strength come from?

God.

He empowered her. God’s working power deposited in Deborah gave her everything she needed when it was needed.

You’ve got this power, too. If you claim Jesus as your Savior, the same Spirit in Deborah, Moses, Paul lives in you and me.

What might His power help you? Do you need to speak strength to your flesh, to your thoughts? Do you need to proclaim God is with you in it, whatever it is? Do you need to issue a battle cry of deliverance?

I do. I’m writing about His power because I’m done succumbing to a spirit of fear. Whether it’s a lack of control over my own thoughts or the enemy bringing all-out war against me, I’m done! What about you? Are you tired of battling something in your own strength?

Let’s speak to God’s working power within us so we can be who He created us to be. By speaking the Word of God, we release His working power into our lives. God's Word says:

Hebrews 4.12

James 5.16

Ephesians 6.10-12Let’s convert God’s Word into power statements so we can stand firm. Here’s my example.

The Verse:  So do not fear, for I am with you; I’ll strengthen you, help you. Isaiah 41:10.

My Power Statement:  With Your strength, I reject fear of what I can’t control.

It's your turn. Pick a verse. Make a Power Statement. Never forget we have a powerful God giving us power through the Spirit alive in us. Live steady, strong, and fierce! God’s strength powers your strength.

Giving God the glory, Terri

P.S. Check out the Hearts Encouraged Facebook Page to find more power statements! I’d love to read your power statements, too! Let’s encourage one another.

References:

Verses on God’s working power in us: Ephesians 1:17; 3:16, 20; Acts 1:8, Ephesians 6:10, and 2 Timothy 1:7.

https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/deborah-in-the-bible/

https://www.amazon.com/Every-Woman-Bible-Everything/

 

 


Thoughts on Sin, Forgiveness, and Grace

Sin is an offence. A deep, jagged woundedness.

Afflicted are the offender and offended.

What restores the innocence? What mends the damaged?

The cleansing, healing power of forgiveness.

That’s not all.

There’s grace. God’s grace.

Grace that restores and wholly reunites.

 

But beware the prevailing lie—

“Sin isolates you from God”.

That’s free advice from the betrayer.

Fiercely guard your heart!

Guard your heart against the enemy, a raging lion.

He’s a labeler. He’s a liar,

"You’re Shame! You’re Disgrace! There’s Unworthy!"

Don’t yield to these names. Don't play his game.

 

Yes, sin scars the heart.

Unconfessed sin makes you heartsick.

Liberate yourself. Hand it over to Christ.

Hand Him your sin and you’ll get something in return.

God will give you a lavish gift. Delighting to do so!

A gift Christ purchased for you, in advance, knowing you would need this very thing.

Let yourself receive the gift of Mercy and Grace.

 

Now, you can label yourself. Go ahead and label yourself!

Forgiven. Loved. Adopted. Saved. Graced. Favored. Blessed….

No other names will do.

So, remember who you are and what He’s done for you.

 

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you.

Let the Holy Spirit convict and lead you.

Be led.

Be led because you’ll continue to wrestle with sin.

Confess. Reform. Seize.

Confess with humility.

Reform yourself with His help.

Seize forgiveness, mercy, and grace.

 

Now, live like you're forgiven because you are.

Live like you’re redeemed because you are.

Live as His beloved because you are!

________________________________

Dear friend, I'm so thankful for the love of God. We can seek Him for a love and grace found nowhere else.  May the verses below deepen the truth of His forgiveness, grace, and love over you.
Grace Forgiven Grace God's Love
Click here for a free printable version of Download Sin_Forgiveness_Grace. Share! If you want to see these above verses in other versions of the Bible, like the NIV or The Message, go to Bible.com.  May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you! Fondly, Terri

P.S. Check out the post on Trust for more insights into your relationship with God.


3 Options to Refresh Your Private Time with Jesus

Hello and Welcome!

I’m so excited you’ve popped in to discover three ways to refresh your private time with Jesus. Any time we engage in a daily practice there’s the potential for it to become routine, familiar, and even boring. Private time, meditation, or prayer with Jesus is not immune. To ensure you don’t fall into a rut, refresh your practice of meeting with Jesus with three options.

Refresh Option 1

Lyrics from a song easily transforms into a prayer or focal point for meditation. Several years ago, I bought The Celebration Hymnal: Songs and hymns for worship for just that purpose. Sometimes, a verse or even an entire song declares  exactly the feelings I have for God. For instance, the fifth verse of the hymn, Take My Life and Let It Be Consecrated, contains a heartfelt, image-evoking prayer. Copyright law prohibits me from quoting the verse word for word so I've paraphrased it below.

Your love for the Lord, stored in your heart, is a treasure so precious it cannot be valued. You pour out this love upon His feet as an act of undying surrender. You offer your love, your life, dedicated to Jesus only, forever and ever and ever.

What a beautiful prayer and image describing one's love for Jesus. I can see myself at Jesus’ feet, pouring out my love as an offering. See John 12:3 for a similar image.

Alternatively, lyrics can turn into a meditative focus. We can create questions to go even deeper in the message.

Let’s try it with the same paraphrased verse from Take My Life.

Your love for the Lord, stored in your heart, is a treasure so precious it cannot be valued. You pour out this love upon His feet as an act of undying surrender. You offer your love, your life, dedicated to Jesus only, forever and ever and ever.

I find two questions arise in my mind: 

Am I offering every part of my life to Him?

Do I have any idols trying to compete for His attention and my devotion?

Here’s another example from one of my favorite musicians, David Crowder. His song, Come and Listen, is a call to quietness and reflection. It says pay attention because Jesus has done stuff for us, he's doing stuff for us, and he's going to keep on doing stuff for us.

Again, we can tease out a couple meditative questions.

Am I sharing what Jesus has done for me and is doing for me?

Second, do I live in such a way that someone might ask about Jesus?

Consider introducing lyrics into your time with God to keep it fresh.

Refresh Option 2

I enjoy reading the New International Version because I know it well. Familiarity enables me to find verses quickly. On the other hand, familiarity can decrease the power and meaningfulness of those verses. To guard against this, exploring a different Bible version can make it fresh and new again.

Let’s compare the verses from Luke 10:41-42 using the New Living Translation (NLT) and the New International Version (NIV) as an example.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (NIV)

In the NIV version above, I always hone in on the phrase…only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better. The word chosen catches my eye. When I first discovered this verse, the idea of choosing Jesus above and beyond all other options had a high impact factor for me. Over time, the impact has faded.

Now, let’s read the same verse from the New Living Translation.

“My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (NLT)

In this version, I immediately zoom in on the same phrase, …there’s only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it…. This time the words concerned and discovered jump off the page. The key word in the NIV version is choice, but the NLT version awakens me to the concept of discovery. Am I looking for or discovering Jesus in the midst of the moment?

Perhaps you'll experience new meaning or a new way of thinking about your relationship with Jesus by introducing a different version of the Bible into your private time.

Refresh Option 3

I've read daily devotionals so packed with nuggets I can't absorb it all in one sitting. Spotlighting a word or phrase allows me to linger with a small portion of the content. 

Let’s try it with a meditation I wrote. 

God sees you. He knows you. Every square inch, inside and out.  You're wholly loved by God. It's unconditional. Unchanging. Faithful. Let yourself believe it. Have no doubts about it.

We could pause at any one of the sentences, but my spotlight is landing on, Have no doubts about it. I can turn this phrase into a question.

Do I ever doubt God's love for me?

When you find your eyes or mind attracted to a word or phrase, it could be the Holy Spirit inviting you to linger with and savor the message. In turn, you can ask the Holy Spirit to reveal deeper insights and wisdom.

PrayerI hope these three options will rejuvenate and refresh your private time with Jesus. Below is a printable I've created for you to share or to keep handy when the time comes to bring newness to your current practice of meeting and conversing with Jesus. Download 3 Options to Refresh Your Time with Jesus

God loves us. He loves you. Thanks for reading! Terri

References:

Crowder, David. Come and Listen. A Collision. CD. Sparrow Records. 2005

Havergal, Frances Ridley; Malan, Henry A. Cesar. Take My Life and Let It Be Consecrated. The Celebration Hymnal: Songs and hymns for worship. Arrangement. Copyright 1997 by Integrity’s Hosanna! Music and Word Music

Images by Pixaby

 


What's So Important About Awe?

Greetings Friends!

A few months ago I heard the word awe briefly referenced in a sermon. By the time I left the church service, the Holy Spirit tattooed that word on my heart and mind in gigantic capital letters. AWE. I needed to find out more.

I commenced an investigation and am convinced awe is a bigger deal than we realize. I invite you to discover how awe impacts our relationship with God.

Let’s take a look at the definition.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary concisely defines awe as a response of wonder, reverence, or even dread. My definition of awe is slightly wordier. Awe is an impressionable moment attributed to God because of the undeniable display of His active presence.

When God’s magnificence, glory, and power grabs our soul’s attention it prompts the realization of God in it or God with us. Awe is a step beyond thankfulness. It’s a declaration, a confession. Biblical examples include David and Daniel. Here’s an excerpt from Daniel Chapter 9.

“O Lord  you are a great and awesome God! You always Daniel 9What a profound confession from Daniel’s heart. Having personally experienced God’s life-saving power when confined with lions, he had every reason for awe of God. His awe expresses reverence and a love for God.

Have you ever wondered what our awe means to God? What if He receives awe as a love offering from our heart?

Here is the first reason why being awestruck by God is a big deal.

Awe of God expresses our love for God.

Awe of God 1

Below is a quote by Brennan Manning, author of Ruthless Trust, and it says volumes about awe.  

Awe of God Manning Quote

Brennan is saying pay attention. Let yourself be amazed. Why? Awareness of the awesome nature of God invites an inpouring of strength, peace, security, and joy. Awe beckons Jesus.

Here’s an example from the Book of Acts.

Acts 2Are you surprised prayer, the Word, and community cultivates awe? The closer you get to Jesus the more awestruck you become.

Here is the second reason why awe is important.

Awe significantly enhances your relationship with the Lord. 

To better explain, here's an example from my life. Twice, my heart has physically ached from being heart-broken. The first time it happened I didn’t think to ask Jesus for help. I went through it alone with misery. The second time I asked Him to join me.

Friends, oh, how He met me in it. I felt His strong presence though the grief threatened to overtake me. Overwhelmed by awe, I confessed it to Him.  I didn’t feel lost and desperate. Darkness didn’t enter my heart. Rather, a strength outside of my own lifted me, guided me. Over time, His peace sealed the broken places of my heart. Further, I continued to express my awe to God for being by my side all the way. My expression of awe intensified my relationship with Jesus. I am closer to Him.

Perhaps you, too, have been lifted by the Lord when otherwise you might have been buried by love and loss. 

We have many reasons to be awestruck by God.

A crucifixion

A resurrection promise fulfilled

Promised life with God in a way we’ve never known before

Getting to be in His presence and love

Whenever you utter the words, Jesus, you’re my Savior, heaven erupts at your declaration. Whether it’s the first time or the 1000th, God embraces you with life-giving love and an unbreakable commitment, sealed with the Spirit in you. The day Jesus saved you was an awe-filled day!

May awe well up inside of us overflowing into a love offering because He loves us. In turn, He will fill you with his strength, joy, peace, and hope. He is our Lord and Savior.

Thanks for reading and your encouragement! God loves us, Terri

P.S.  Find more quotes, insights, and conversation at Hearts Encouraged Facebook Page.

References:

Merriam Webster Dictionary - https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/awe


In the Midst of Busy

Hello Everyone! 

What is it you need most in the midst of your busy, hectic day? Endurance? Perseverance? Courage? Could it be a power prayer?

Words have power. The Word of God is power. Praying God's Word helps you...

...love without boundaries.

...incapacitate the enemy.

...scatter fears.

...de-escalate anxiety.

...activate self-control.

...heal a wound.

...bolster hope.

...inspire.

...motivate.

...encourage.

In John 16:24, Jesus tells us to ask for what we need. There are no prerequisites. No request is too insignificant or unimportant. Tap into God's vast resources. You can bring your best to whatever you do by including Him in it.

I discovered the power of praying Scripture while reading Beth Moore’s book, Praying God’s Word. I began to use verses in my prayers giving my requests a meaningful focus.

In the Middle of Busy Feb 2019I wrote the prayer called Free (above) using verses 1 John 3:19-20 and Romans 8:1. I speak this prayer when disappointment in my sinful nature turns into self-condemnation. Self-condemnation is a spiritual barrier. It prevents me from receiving God’s mercy and grace and it's an invitation for the enemy to aid my self-loathing.

Balance must be re-established.

My Free prayer rejects self-condemnation, proclaims my freedom, and reminds me God is for me. The power of this prayer is in its Truth. Self-condemnation is the equivalent of clasping shackles on my hands and feet. Sin, past or present, has no hold on me. My response to sin is simple: Pray God’s Word. It is my strength.

In the midst of busy, consider taking 20 to 30 seconds to include God. If it's a meeting, ask God for focus. If it's a project, ask God for inspiration and success. If it's a crucial conversation, ask God to direct your dialogue. Involve God in everything you do from the beginning to the end.

Meet the unexpected with power!

Loss. Change. Spiritual warfare. The unexpected can knock us down. God's Word re-positions us, firmly rooting us in His love, truth, and power. So much is asked of you in any given day. You face nothing alone. Make your need known to Jesus. He waits, ready to provide. 

I created several power-packed prayers comprised of paraphrased Bible verses. These are below. Praying God's Word, as Jesus did in the desert against Satan, releases power. I've attached a printable version of several prayers the size of a business card. Consider laminating and tucking one or more in your wallet or purse.  Download In the Middle of Busy Prayers Feb 2019 

Wisdom Prayer Feb 2019

 

Courage prayer Feb 2019

 

Self-Control Prayer Feb 2019

 

Peace Prayer Feb 2019

 

Prayer Feb 2019

I'm asking God to supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ (Ephesians 3:16). He is true life! My security, your security is found in Him! Find more prayers and inspiration at the Heartsencouraged Facebook Page @TerriHutchinsonAuthor.  Fondly, Terri


Your Hope Story

Hello and welcome dear friends! 

I propose that all of us have a hope story. The root of our hope story is the expectation of Christ’s fulfillment of his promised salvation. This story is filled with anticipation of life with God, our Father. Being reunited with Him, living in His presence, as it was in the days of Eden. We have every reason to hope, keep our courage, and remain confident in our hope in Christ’s promise!

There are other hope stories. Very personal stories living deep in our hearts. Consider this: every time you look to Jesus for help, believe he distinctly hears your voice, and wait confidently for him to act, you are making a declaration of hope.

Jesus said we’d have trouble in this world. That’s a promise I wish wasn’t true. Yet, disaster, crisis, grief, and sorrow reveal the hope held in our soul.

Bible - Hope PicHow appropriate that Jesus proclaimed God’s promises as Good News!

I want to share a bit of my hope story. The last seven months have been tumultuous. In May, my husband and I moved from Ohio to South Carolina. I started a new job. Shortly after our move, my dear sweet pup of 15 years passed away. My heart felt the absence intensely. Then, in August my mother died very unexpectedly and my grief deepened. Doubt about the move and transition tried to take root. Then, September and October brought hurricanes and extreme weather conditions. The stress, anxiety, and grief became insurmountable.

A few days after my mom’s funeral, I went to my writing space to create a post but there was no message inside me. With tears and sorrow, I cried out to God. My bright and burning hope was fast becoming dim and at risk.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

- Martin Luther King Jr.

Spent. Broken. But, not hopeless. I looked to Jesus to fulfill his promise to never leave me or forsake me.

That promise became my lived reality through voices, hugs, tears, and cards. Friends and family came along side. Their care, comfort, and love fanned dying embers of hope into a bright flame once again.  

Never lose hope

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

Hebrews 10:23 NLT

Here's an interesting thing that I've learned. People watch how we respond to the struggle and burden of a difficult circumstance. Why? I think it’s curiosity. They want to see what hope looks like. I wonder if they watch because hope strengthens hope like iron sharpens iron. Your hope story gives the watcher a reason to choose hope.

Choosing to hope in God’s promises gives you resilience and persistence to stand firm in the literal and figurative storms of this earthly life. Your words and attitude declare your reliance on and trust in God's promises.

Hope is your response.

It's your intentional choice.

It's your strength.

Dear friend, you embody a profound and inspiring hope story with or without words. Your hope reveals your firm expectation that God has not, will not, fail you or abandon you. He guides you. God's faithful love comforts, heals, and restores.

Hope declares reliance on and trust in God's promises

The Bible says be ready with an answer when you're asked why you hope. Here are three of God's promises providing a firm foundation on which to build hope.

Hebrews 13.5-6 Hope

Hope - Typepad Image
Isaiah 54 Hope Tyepapd
Which promise of God fans the flame of your hope?

Your hope story is a precious gift to the one who’s hope is in jeopardy. The Lord makes you a beautiful blessing to the one who is searching for hope. We absolutely have reason to hope because God is for us!

Please share your thoughts on hope! And, please share this post to encourage and lift someone's spirit. Check out the Hearts Encouraged FB page, @TerriHutchinsonAuthor. Thanks so much for reading, following, and for your encouragement. Fondly, Terri


Spirit-Bearers, it's the season to give!

Hello and welcome dear friends! For this month’s post, I’ve chosen Elizabeth and Mary's meeting as shared in Luke 1:5-56. Perhaps you'll discover what I did as I read it anew.

Luke1.41Elizabeth and Mary, chosen by God and anointed with the Holy Spirit, were given individual, special assignments by God. Elizabeth would be the mother of John the Baptist. God revealed this news to Mary who traveled to see Elizabeth. When Mary arrived, the Spirit within Elizabeth prompted her to proclaim Mary as the mother of the Son of God. Oh, what an affirming and meaningful greeting to the young mother-to-be!

Let's stop and take a moment to envision the scene so long ago and the gift each woman was to the other. Both women had a personal and profound encounter with the Lord. An event not easily shareable or believable. That it was possible for Mary and Elizabeth to come face to face and share their stories must have been marvelous, reassuring, and encouraging. These Spirit-bearing women were a gift to the other.

Giving 1Can I be a gift?

The Holy Spirit within you activates the gifts God’s deposited in you. You, beloved, are the conduit. You are the gift!

Perhaps, you don’t quite feel like a gift to others. I understand that feeling. Regardless of what we feel or think about ourselves, we can be a blessing to those who cross our life path.

Presents 1The Spirit within you

activates the gifts God’s deposited in you.

Sometimes, we don’t realize the type of intangible gift we have to offer others until they bring it to our attention. For instance, you may hear a friend sharing you’re a strong encourager or a thoughtful listener. This is a blessed affirmation of your gift! These intangible gifts are often the most meaningful and most needed.

We’re in the season emphasizing material gift-giving. Material gifts are fine ways of showing appreciation and love, but I believe our hearts are deeply yearning for the intangibles.

Why?

Daily reports of death, sadness, and trouble dominate the news while fears and worries are rising in tandem. We’re looking for kindness, faith, hope, love, listening, empathy, compassion, sincerity, gentleness, honesty, peace, wisdom, hospitality…. Our souls’ are thirsting for the peace and comfort of the Holy Spirit.  Holy SpiritEvery soul can receive the precious comfort administered by the appointed Spirit-Bearer.

Never forget you’re a gift to those who love you. And, you’re a gift to every soul crossing your path. If you tune into the Spirit within you, you’ll sense the prompt and the opportunity. There is a catch, though.

You have to want to give the time.

Giving time

This is where I’ve fallen short. I’m eager for the opportunity until it comes. The problem is time. I’m always on my way to something else when the chance comes for me to gift someone. I can be an excellent listener because I’m trained on how to actively, intentionally listen. But that takes time.

For example, I can’t tell you how often I’ve told someone I’ll pray for them. And, I do. Later.

So, I have to stop at that moment and ask myself, “Terri, are you willing to give the time?”

So, why not stop and pray right then and there? Because I’m on my way to…. Yet, on those occasions when I’ve stopped and prayed, the look of surprise and gratitude clearly indicated they felt the blessing and care.

Giving the time is my issue.

Is there anything keeping you from giving your gifts?

Present 2

 

You, dear Spirit-Bearer, are called to give and to receive. Give as the opportunities arise. Receive to meet your need

Be mindful and receive from others to fill yourself up so you can continue to give. Receiving the gifts from others is as important as giving your gifts. Letting someone bless you with their gifts (material or spiritual) can be a gift in itself!

So, are you eagerly anticipating a God-designed encounter to bless someone with your spiritual gift? Let’s get out there and share the love of Jesus! There’s so many people who need your unique love, comfort, and compassion.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2) Thank you so much for reading and sharing these posts. Check out the Hearts Encouraged Facebook page - @TerriHutchinsonAuthor.

May the peace of Christ rest upon you! Terri

P.S. If you’re wondering what spiritual gifts you possess, there are several online spiritual gift tests. These can help you identify your spiritual gifts. Explore these if you haven’t done so before. Or, maybe you want more information on the Holy Spirit. You can contact me at heartsencouragedministry@gmail.com or comment below. I only release comments meant for the general public. 


A Gratitude List For Thanksgiving and Beyond

Hello and Welcome!

I can't believe Thanksgiving Day is approaching next month. That came around fast, don't you think? The holiday always prompts me to wonder if I've expressed enough thanks during the rest of the year. Have I expressed it enough to my family, my friends, and to God? When it comes to thanking God, sometimes I hear myself uttering the same phrases over and over. Thanking God with general statements is certainly acceptable, but getting very specific and detailed can be humbling. It brings us to awareness of His intimate involvement in our lives.

In an effort to get very specific, I created a Gratitude A-Z list. This might be a great way to open Thanksgiving festivities or to use as a prompt for your daily time with God. Each letter represents a gratitude focus with an accompanying Bible verse. All verses came from the New Living Translation unless otherwise noted. I hope you find it helpful. I've made this available as a PDF so you can download it.    Download Gratitude A - Z Oct 2018 PDF

By the way, THANK YOU! for reading and for your encouragement. You're a shining star and God's light shines bright from you to the world. Fondly, Terri 

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Answering Your Prayer

Psalm 17:6

I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God.

 

Blessing you Autumn
Ephesians 1:3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.

  Calling to my heart

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Delivering you

Psalm 40:1-2

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.... He set my feet on solid ground and steadies me as I walked along.

 

 

Encouraging you

Psalm 138:3

As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me

by giving me strength.

Fall scene 1

 

Lavender-blossom-1595581_1920

Favoring you

Psalm 67:1

May God be merciful and bless us. May His face smile with favor on us.

 

Cross-918459_1920

Gracious provision

Isaiah 30:18 NIV

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.

 

Holiness - making you holy

1 Corinthians 6:11

...you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

 

Butterfly-1127666_1920

  I Am - Isaiah 43.11

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Joy of your heart

Psalm 28:7

He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

 

Known by God

1 Corinthians 8:3 NIV

But the one who loves God is known by God

 

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Candle-3508563_1920

Light in the darkness

Psalm 18:28

You light a lamp for me. The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.

 

  Seasons 2

Mercy

Psalm 103:4

He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.

 

Never forgetting, abandoning you

Hebrews 13:5

...for God has said, "I will never fail you. I will never abandon you."

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Overcoming the world

1 John 5:4-5 NIV

This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

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River water

Plans for my life

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope...."

 

Quieting

the

Soul

Flower-1739892_1920

Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.

heartsencouraged.com

 

Renewing hope - Psalm 94:19
  Hope
When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

 

Strength when you falter  
  Help

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.

Psalm 73:26

 

  Harvest

Tears known to God

Psalm 126:5

Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.

 

 Wood with hearts

Unfailing love

Psalm 143:8

Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.

 

Victory over the enemy  Cross and man

But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:57

 

Shade tree

Watching over you

Psalm 121:5

The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.

 

Yearning for You, Lord

As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God....

Psalm 42:1-2

Stream-801796_1920

 

Zealous for me

Psalm 91:11

  Storm
For He will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.

 

I hope you found this encouraging and uplifting! Check out the Hearts Encouraged Facebook Page, @TerriHutchinsonAuthor. I'd love to hear from you. Blessings dear friends!

 


Competing Priorities

Hello and Welcome! May you find encouragement and blessings in this post. 

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One Saturday morning, sweet chirps outside my window acted like an alarm and a trigger. Barely awake, my mental To Do List began streaming:

Head to the writing desk no later than 8 am. Finish the current blog post, start the next one. Water the patio plants before the writing or it’ll be forgotten. Weeds in the front bed. Complete before it gets warm so before the writing. Get out of bed right now and you can do it.  

I popped out of bed and scurried to the kitchen for coffee. A stack of dirty dishes caught my eye. I looked at the clock. 6:40. I can get these done before writing, then hit the plants and weeds.

Coffee in hand, I went back to the bedroom to change from my pajamas. The unmade bed beckoned a question. When were these sheets last washed? Better do it while I’m thinking about it.

I recalculated the time factor. Get the sheets started first, then soak the dishes while watering the patio plants. Once the dishes are done, the sheets will be ready for the dryer. Get to the weeds next and the sheets should be done when you return inside. Really, who is better at maximizing every minute? Nobody! I marched to the laundry room to begin the gauntlet.

Three words stopped me in my tracks. Meet with Me.

This Holy Spirit whisper was my stop sign. 

Of all the tasks on my To Do List, the tip-top priority should have been lingering with the Lord. 

Do your priorities ever collide with God's_
Like me, and maybe you, Jesus’s disciples faced a similar problem: identifying their greatest need.

In Luke 22, we read the disciples and Jesus gathered for the Last Supper and, later, in the Garden of Gethsemane. The meal was a remembrance of God’s grace for sparing their lives from the final plague of death and to commemorate their freedom from Egypt. At the Last Supper, Jesus planned to direct them to a new remembrance of him and his sacrificial death.

Luke’s account reveals the competing priorities of the disciples during the course of that meal. These priorities included loyalty, position and greatness, and the identity of the betrayer. When the group moved to the garden of Gethsemane, sleep became the priority over prayer.

What was Jesus’ priority? Remembrance and faith. Jesus, anticipating this meal, this time with them, intensely desired their presence and focus. He knew the disciples’ relationship with and trust in Him would be tested.


Connected
Remain in me and I will remain in you.

John 15:4

Our faith, our trust is being tested. Jesus’ compassionate command to remain in him is a call to anchor ourselves to him. He is our Rock during times of testing. We are known to Him and we have full access to Him. We understand these things, but.... In my case, I let to-do lists’ and competing priorities lure me from Jesus. A subtle, steady drift.

Is it like that for you, too?

I can’t let competing priorities or anything else deter me from trying to get with Jesus. I know full well the enemy wants me restless and distracted and, for that reason, it’s worth any attempt I can muster. My greatest need that day, and every day, is absorbing His Word and settling into His Presence.

Remember this:

Every moment you intentionally seek out God you’re filled with a fresh awakening to his love for you and his power in you.
How do we inject time with Jesus in an already booked schedule? Set an invite to yourself to “Meet with Jesus”. If it’s not scheduled, then it’s probably not going to happen. You live strong by investing in your relationship with God. Keep in mind fleeting interactions won’t sustain you over the long haul. But, when you’re on overload and can’t linger for a session with Jesus, then maybe Take Five is your solution.

Icon Hearts Encouraged  Take Five  Icon Hearts Encouraged

Take Five is a three-part process.

Part 1: List your tasks for the day or week in priority order. Review the list. What are your greatest needs? In other words, what do you need from the Lord in order to be successful in the coming hour or the next eight hours? Is it wisdom, insight, attentiveness, creativity, patience? Document what you need.

Part 2: Take 5-10 minutes with the Lord to:

Acknowledge God’s priority in your life

Proclaim a statement of humbleness

Offer thanksgiving for the previous days provision

Tell the Lord of your greatest needs. Ask Him to be with you and to equip you for the task, the next hour, or the next person.

Part 3: Reflect on the tasks and the outcomes. Did He meet your need? Did you receive something you weren’t expecting? In Part 1 you documented what you needed. Now, you can document what Jesus provided. Reflection is your remembrance of and gratitude for Jesus with you.

I hope you’re encouraged to Take Five throughout your day to connect with the Lord. We would love to know how you take a “time out” to be with God in the midst of the hectic and crazy! Please share your thoughts on the Hearts Encouraged Facebook page (@TerriHutchinsonAuthor). 

References

The Last Supper. http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/christianity/what-is-the-meaning-and-importance-of-the-last-supper.aspx#xmLjYbl1q6EVgxWk.99

Henri J.M. Nouwen, Here and Now: Living in the Spirit (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company , 2003).


The Undercover Perfectionist

Hello and Welcome Everyone!

This month I have the privilege of introducing you to my friend and fellow writer, Leslie Newman. Leslie has a wonderful blog titled Journey to Imperfect. It so happens she is a recovering perfectionist like me! Leslie has a passion for helping us see that we are all different and unique. In her own words, "every person will follow a different path in working through these kinds of issues. But although we have different circumstances, we have the same God and He is all about restoring us and bringing us to completeness through His Son Jesus." Leslie believes prayer is the key to overcoming the barriers that prevent us from becoming exactly who God designed us to be. When you visit her blog, you'll find fantastic posts as well as free resources including a Prayer Notebook, Hope Kits, and more. 

For the month of August, Leslie asked me to write a guest post for her blog because of my extensive experience with perfectionism. Below you'll find the link so you can read the full post there.  Please feel free to share the post with anyone who could use the encouragement to dabble with imperfection! Let Leslie and I know how it resonated with you.  Fondly, Terri

The Undercover perfectionist


If you know the phrase, "Do unto others as you would have them do to you", then you know that it's a call to love others as you would love yourself. But, do you know there's an alternative version of that life mantra? It goes like this, "Do to myself what I would not do to others".
 
As an undercover perfectionist, I employ the latter mantra when I heap unrealistic expectations upon myself that I would not and do not expect of others. You can't see my perfectionism because you're not subject to it. You, my friend, do not have to live up to the high bar of perfection I have set for myself. That bar is for me alone and there's no mercy from me to me when I fail to hit it. What good can come from that?
 
None.
 
I can't thrive when I subject myself to that kind of pressure, striving, and harshness.
 
If the undercover perfectionist wants to challenge their perspective, then three questions should be explored:
 
Who defines perfect?
Why is perfection the wrong goal?
What's the personal impact for the undercover perfectionist?
 
 
 
 

Trust without Boundaries

Hello and Welcome! To set the scene for this topic on boundaries, my focus is on the verse found in Luke 7:39. From the New Living Translation, it reads: When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “if this man [Jesus] were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” Keep this in mind as I'll paraphrase this verse later in the post. My hope is you will glean new insights and encouragement!

Boundary markerBack in ancient days, boundary markers were a common and significant sign to anyone who came upon them. These markers were placed by the landowner and designated the boundaries of that land. Moving or removing boundary markers was the equivalent of stealing or theft (Deuteronomy 19:14). As the boundary markers could not be permanently affixed to the ground, respect for the markers was expected.

It was an issue of trust.

We practice this ancient custom in our modern world. Every aspect of our life contains boundaries of some kind whether in sports, business, or personal relationships. A boundary line is established because there is a need. For instance, in sports it has to do with what’s in and what’s out. It’s about the football receiver balancing on tiptoe down the sideline, shifting his weight infield for those ever-precious inches. Or, the Olympic gymnast rapidly tumbling and landing with centimeters to spare at the edge of the mat. It’s about setting limits--go up to the boundary line, but no further. Cross the line and there are consequences.

Tennis court boundaryIn our personal relationships we set invisible boundary lines for ourselves and/or for others. The wounded hearts puts into place boundary lines and markers as a protective measure. These lines mark the foundation upon which impenetrable walls are built. Nothing gets past the boundaries.

Nothing.

And if that’s the case, is it really protection? Or, is it a prison? What exactly sparked the need for these boundary lines?

It’s an issue of trust.

Trust without Boundaries Luke 4.18Jesus was invited to the dinner, but she was not. They labeled her a sinner and the wounds were deep. What drove her to walk in, uninvited, and make a scene? Tears flowed as she knelt to kiss his feet. What did she hope to gain by going there? Acceptance? Healing? Humbly, she poured the oil on his feet. With love she wiped it away with her hair. And the dinner guests watched. They knew who she was and wondered why Jesus did not.

Jesus knew.

He set no boundary line that she could not cross. And, she came to him with a trusting, wounded heart. Jesus met her need and she received salvation, freedom, and peace. (paraphrased from Luke 7:36-49, NIV)

Trust - Take My Heart Lord
There’s no need for boundary lines with Jesus. The day I brought to Him my tears and my wounded heart, I found healing in His presence. That day I rested secure at His feet and found acceptance. The power of Jesus was released creating new boundaries and a secure shelter. My trust in Him and His love for me freed my heart in a way nothing else could. Walls were torn down and markers were no longer required. I found salvation, freedom, and peace. And, so it goes today.

There is wonder and beauty in an intimate relationship with Jesus. It’s like no other. May we be willing to explore the landscape of our heart in search of boundary lines no longer needed. These lines and markers that keep us from Christ-given freedom and peace can be torn down. I was willing and there’s been no regret. There is no need to protect my heart when it’s in the hands of my Savior.

Please share with me how your relationship with Jesus brings wellness and healing to your heart. We’d love to be encouraged with your comments. If you haven’t visited the Hearts Encouraged Facebook page, pop over there and “Like” the page so you can see the occasional Live events that I post and other encouragement.

Fondly, Terri


The Saboteur Within

Have you ever watched someone enthusiastically take a hold of a project or idea and start infusing it with their special talent? I find it very motivating because you can just see the energy bursting forth from their being as they accept the challenge. Do you agree? You may even be one of those beautiful souls. As for me, I choose to stop to consider if I have the talent, the resources, the desire to invest and so on. Those considerations are wise and detrimental. It’s detrimental when it positions me in front of the door leading to self-sabotage. When I walk through that dismal door I’m smack dab in self-judgment, critical assessment, and self-condemnation. These are obstacles preventing me from moving forward and trying the new thing. Crazy, isn’t it?

MasterpieceFor we are God’s masterpiece, He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 NLT

The word “masterpiece” describes something of such high quality that there are very few like it. So, my fellow masterpieces, is that how you see yourself? Are you able to look yourself in the mirror and say aloud with heartfelt conviction, I’m God’s masterpiece? We are not only a masterpiece, but the apostle Paul says there are good things each one of us have been created to do. Those words should be invigorating unless there’s a saboteur lurking inside you. When self sabotage revs ups, courage gets trampled. We miss out when the saboteur gets a say. When I see myself as God’s masterpiece, not yet perfected but a work in process, then I can be bold and courageous.

You have within you special and unique qualities and you get to decide how much of yourself you’ll put out there in the world. You get to choose to share your heart with that other heart God’s placed on your life path. You get to trust that God has given you or will give you exactly what you need for today and for your tomorrows. When we critique our abilities and resources while weighing the situation before us, then we’re moving into the area of self-sabotage. I define self-sabotage this way: condemnation or self-defeating judgment about past performance that is applied to a present opportunity. Too many times I let my inner saboteur talk me out of God assignments, learning new skills, and living new adventures. Who is could be a better judge than me as to my capability? We all know the answer to that question! Take this to heart: as God’s masterpiece, any lesser alternative perception of yourself cannot be more significant than God’s view of you.

EmbersDo not stifle the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 NLT

 We must guard against moving into the territory of stifling or quenching the Spirit within. The Spirit is equated to a fire, a vibrant, active fire in our soul. And just like any fire, it can be reduced to smoldering embers. I smother the Holy Spirit when I discount my worth, my abilities, and my usefulness in God’s kingdom. The verses I provided from 1 Thessalonians and Ephesians are the same verses that awakened me to see my persistent self-judgment and condemnation. But perhaps the most significant verse that impacted me was the one from Luke 6:37-38, Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. The words judge and condemn jumped off the page and pierced my heart, I knew it was no longer acceptable for me to engage in self-defeating judgment and self-condemnation. Previously, I read this verse as applicable to my actions toward others, but that day God wanted me to apply it to how I treated my own heart. What about you? Do you need to treat yourself with a little more kindness and a lot less judgment and condemnation? You and I are called to share our uniqueness with this crazy world. You are God’s beloved, a delight in His eyes and He is your biggest fan! Embrace that truth and quench the inner saboteur. 

SabotageWhen I get into self-sabotage mode, I take two action steps to get me back on track: Thought-Capture Self Check and Power Talk Statements. Power talk is a great heart lift because it's based off of verses from the Bible. Try these out or share these tips with anyone who may be struggling to see themselves as God sees them. We so need to lift each other up and encourage. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you’ve read here. Please comment here or post on the Hearts Encouraged FB page. Fondly, Terri

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2) Action Step 1 – Thought-Capture Self Check

This self-check is about listening to your internal dialogue and your external verbalization. Monitor what you’re thinking and saying about yourself. Track specific words or phrases you use. Below are sentence starters and phrases that are often associated with sabotaging statements.

I’ll never…

I can’t…

I’m not…

I’m too…

I’m afraid…

How will I…

But…

God can’t…

God won’t…

What if…

It’s impossible.

It’ll never work.

I’m not sure I can.

Once you’ve started really listening to what you say and think about yourself, your second step is to challenge those statements that fall under the category of condemnation, judgment, self-pity, or devaluing yourself. Ask the Holy Spirit for help and use Bible verses like Romans 8:31-39 (The Message): If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? God can give courage, ability, strength, and the power to reframe your perspective and your thoughts or verbalizations.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2) Action Step 2 - Power Talk

You need to power talk! It’s food for the heart and soul. You can find plenty of power talk in the Bible. Check out the list below and use these on a daily basis. Be your own champion! Encourage yourself! You’ll find yourself changing how you view yourself and living life better than before.

Power Talk Statements

I can’t wait to see what God will do today.

I choose to be a bold adventurer in my relationship with God.

God has compassion on me.

God has mercy on me.

I have strength to face this day through Jesus.

God’s given me a spirit of power and love.

God delights in me.

God and I will fan into a flame the gifts He has given me to serve.

I can eagerly expect and hope in God.

God calls me to courage.

I am not afraid—God’s presence is with me.

I will have no fear of bad news because I trust in God.

God has the power to do what He promises.

I am not alone, forsaken, nor abandoned.

I am God’s masterpiece and His child.

God’s blessing will enable me to do anything and everything He sets before me.

God knows the plans He has for my life.


Terri's Praise Prayer

Hi and Welcome Friends! Today's post is a supplement to "The Gift of Praise" post I sent on May 13th. In that post, I encouraged everyone to create a Praise Prayer and provided a simple format guide to get you started. Today, I am sharing my Praise Prayer to God so you can see what it contains and how I went about creating it. Please believe me when I say that this Praise Prayer is the real deal! The last two weeks have been incredibly stressful and I was on my knees every morning and night thanking God and asking for more just to get through the next day. This praise prayer is a heartfelt tribute from me to my ever faithful Father and Savior. Much of this praise prayer contains Bible verses that I have paraphrased into my own words. It's interesting how reading a verse is the catalyst to expressing what sometimes feels inexpressible to God. 

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)When I create a prayer, my choice of the verses depends on what I'm going through. Sometimes a praise prayer will have a more solemn tone because we find ourselves in deep sadness while yet finding the desire to express gratitude to God. Other times, joy is the sole focus of the praise. My praise prayer below expresses my thankfulness that God was with me and supported me as I dug down deep to be courageous and do what I wasn't sure I could. For the purpose of this post, I have included the verses that I used next to the lines of the prayer. After I create these prayers, I use these to help me remember to express gratitude and thanks to God.  Gratitude can get left behind because of time, forgetfulness, other pressing prayers requests that fill our heart. Once you create it, it's ready to use at over and over. If it's heartfelt, then it's a beautiful offering from you to God anytime you pray it.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)

I would love it if you would share a line or two from your Praise Prayer or the verses that you feel represent your praise. I'll be posting this on the Hearts Encouraged Facebook Page (@TerriHutchinsonAuthor) so we can share there. Fondly, Terri

  Awe-Praise
Holy Lord, you are the Creator overall things that was and is and will be. Jesus, you are the worthy Lamb, my Savior. Holy Spirit, you are my Counselor.

My heart gives you all honor, glory, reverence, and awe that is due You. Your Presence in my life gives me victory to stand in hard times; Your Help is a shield and fortifies my strength when I feel weak; Your right hand supports, guides, and leads me. (Psalm 18:35)

I am amazed at your tender care of me and Your very nearness to me. When I feel lost You come along side me. Because of that knowledge, I can be courageous with faith and hope (Psalm 31:24). I am never alone just as You promise. (1 Peter 5:6-7; Psalm 31:24)

You graciously support me with wisdom and knowledge. How grateful I am that You hold nothing back when I call on Your name! (Isaiah 33:6; Romans 8:31-32)

You know my heart belongs to you and I know you hold it in the palm of Your hand. Thank you, Heavenly Father for your unfailing love that heals and soothes my tender heart. (John 10:29-30; Psalm 143)


Praise from the Heart

Have you ever thought you knew the definition of a word only to find out that you didn’t really know it at all? I have to laugh at myself because I know I’ve used words improperly only to discover this later on my own. No one corrected me at the time. So, this makes me wonder if they didn’t know the meaning of the word either. The truth is more likely that they were being kind as to not embarrass me! The reason I bring this up is because the word praise falls into that category of words I thought I understood. I'd like to share what I've discovered about praise and how it's a gift to God and to ourselves when we do it. And, I will guide you to create a personal praise prayer from you to God.

Person praisingPraise the Lord, O my soul

What is Praise?

To praise is to recognize the significant worth of that object, person, or event.1 Webster’s definition of praise uses words like magnificence, holiness, excellent, honored, perfect, approved.2 The capability to praise is not limited to humans for the Bible indicates all that exists praises God. In the Book of Revelation, John says the angels praise. In the Psalms, David proclaims creation praises. As for humans, throughout God’s word there are songs or prayers of praise from people such as Mary, Zechariah, Moses, and David. They couldn’t contain their wonder over God’s magnificence and holiness. These songs and prayers are lengthy and meaningful expressions of a heart-felt awe and love for God and contain much more than a “thank you, God”. If you were to read the praises of those mentioned above, you can find five elements in each one. First, they acknowledge God as Sovereign Lord using different types of descriptors and then they address His mercy, power, provision, and faithfulness. They identify God’s attributes and how it impacted or is impacting their life. Interestingly, if you were to recite the Lord’s Prayer, you can find many of these elements contained within it as well. Each one of the elements assigns worth to what He has done, is doing, and will do for them and with them.

RainbowWhat’s Happening When We Praise?

We are turning our focus to God.

We are giving God credit for what’s happening in our life. Yes, even for those things allowed by God that hurt and try us. The hurt and the trial change us but sometimes the very things that hurt us gives us an opportunity to help those who must endure such things as we’ve experienced. It's a chance to  offer hope.

We are humbling ourselves as children of the Lord Almighty. We are acknowledging His power and sovereignty. We are recognizing our need for His mercy and that He is our provider.

We are remembering His faithfulness in the past, relying on it in this day, and proclaiming a belief in it for the future. Any and all unknowns for us are always known to God.

It's a love offering. We are offering a heart-devoted. We are offering an intentional love. We are offering a determined trust. 

 

Woman praisingWhat is Happening When we Don’t Praise?

There are things that hurt us so badly we can’t praise and we don’t have to praise God for those things. When we can’t praise God, we can still reach out to Him and offer our devastated heart into His compassion-filled hands. He can give us such a comforting peace found nowhere else. We can share with Him our brokenness so we may be healed and restored. 

There are other times when we can praise, but don’t. Why? Is it because we’re too busy? Are we taking God for granted or crediting our own efforts? Are we failing to meditate on God's very present presence? I think it’s just forgetfulness. While we’re more likely to praise God for the “big” things that he works out, life is made of small things, small events. I am missing out on God’s faithful work in my life when I fail to be mindful and recognize how He is works daily, even hourly, on my behalf. The little things add up and, over time, I have a personal history of God’s faithfulness to me that empowers me like nothing else. To miss the small stuff makes me weak. I need to remember and acknowledge because the enemy wants me to forget. In this world where I get to control very little, I do get to control this much—choosing to mediate on God’s faithfulness so I can create and offer extravagant praise to my Lord. He deserves it!

Horse praisingHow Does God's Creation Praise the Lord?

Mary and David’s Songs of Praise

The praise songs of Mary and David are an intentional out-pouring of their love and worship of God. David’s praise is full of action verbs telling the reader to remember, give thanks, publish, tell, honor and so on. David’s praise proclaims that heaven and every bit of earth’s creation praises God. This is a man, a king, who holds back nothing from his God. He showers God with full-on extravagant praise.

When we read Mary’s praise song, her words share a humbleness, joy, and a remembrance of God’s power and provision. Contained within both praise songs are powerful encouragement. When I read these songs of praise, I can’t help but be moved by their trust and hope in the Lord. Mary and David are only two of the many people who praise is recorded in the Bible. Paul and Silas sang songs in prison. Whether it was worship or praise they kept their hope and faith alive by offering their hope-filled hearts to God. That’s what praise does—it encourages, it empowers, it lifts our eyes up, it finds hope in emptiness. 

I seek to be a woman who praises God as often as possible. That hasn't always been the case. My focus was blurred and I missed God's presence. You know why I decided to change? Because my heart failed to thrive. It was dark, overgrown with bitterness, sadness, and the soil was dry. Nothing good to grow in my heart. When I intentionally decided to look for God's presence in my trials, I saw opportunities to praise. When I seek to find Him, you bet I do and I praise His faithfulness! God deserves my praise and I want to give it to Him. And when I do, I get a gift as well. My heart opens and I get even more of what makes me thrive: light, love, peace, joy....

Bluets-1353172_1280 (2)

Create a Praise Prayer

If you've never created a praise prayer, I encourage you to try it and use it as a beautiful start to your day or to enter your night’s rest. There’s no formula to praise God. All you need is the love in your heart for Him, but if you’d like a little direction on writing a prayer I’ll share a few tips.

Start with a statement acknowledging God as Lord and describe what makes Him Lord. Example: Heavenly Father, holy, majestic Lord. There is no other God but you.

Include a statement on why God’s presence in your life is so important to you. Example: God, you are my wisdom, my protector, and my security.

Identify His faithfulness in your life. Example: Jesus, you gave me courage during…and provided what I couldn’t for myself. I know you’ll give me that same courage in this day.

Tell Him why you want His mercy and grace. This statement relays your humbleness.

Most importantly, praise is about love. Tell God why you love him and what He means to you. That’s exactly what Mary and David did. You can be certain that God loves to receive your love and your praise prayer is a gift from your heart to Him.

Praise is a Gift!

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)Praise encourages your heart when you acknowledge God’s faithful activity in your life.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)Praise is an intimate act, an offering from your heart to your Lord and Savior.

I hope praise permeates your life! I welcome your thoughts and comments. Thank you for sharing this post and being such a faithful community. Fondly, Terri

References

1 International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

2 Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary


Changing Seasons

Originally broadcast as a Facebook Live Event on April 15, 2018 @TerriHutchinsonAuthor page (Hearts Encouraged). This post includes the dialogue as well as Self-Encouragement Tips found at the end of this post.

Hello and Welcome to Heart Lift! Today, I’m bringing you a Heart Lift to encourage, inspire, fortify, refresh your heart and mind. Today’s Heart Lift centers on the verses from Isaiah 58:11, the New Living Translation.

The Lord will guide you continually giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength.

This verse comes to my mind as I listen to the personal stories of women and men who are pouring out of themselves to the point of soul-dehydration. What I mean is they are giving their time, energy, love, care, or emotions so much so they are becoming depleted. Some examples include the caregiver that’s becoming physically and emotionally exhausted or the parent whose heart is intensely hurting for their child.  We can get in a state of soul-dehydration because we aren’t being filled as we pour out.

Water pouring

Another form of soul dehydration is an emptiness within our heart. It can happen because life wears us down. It can happen as we endure a long stress-filled season or with an ongoing battle with fear and anxiety. Soul dehydration occurs when we lose hope. And, it happens when we wonder if God sees us, hears us, or cares one bit for us. I'm here to tell you God sees, hears, and cares for you! We can trust our Lord to restore what has been poured out. When you go to the only Source that restores, revives, and refreshes, you will find a safe place. A place of rest.

Seasons 1I want to share with you some things I’ve learned from my season of depletion that is transforming into a season of restoration. First, some background information—in 2014, my husband and I stepped out in faith purchasing land, then building a house in South Carolina. Throughout the process God blessed our steps. Moving forward to July 2017, we felt it was time to move our lives to South Carolina. This would mean living and working in a new state, a new community, and require me to follow Jesus adventurously. As I embarked on this adventure, my deepest desire then, and now, and is to be surrendered, living in a state of intentional trust as the process unfolds.

Being adventurous with Jesus sounds fantastic at the start until you get into the heart of it and you start to feel lost. You wonder if you and God are on the same path anymore. As the weeks and months passed by, staying steadfast, in resolute trust that God was in control became difficult. By December 2017, the waiting led to wondering that led to questions, doubts, and fears. In my plan, there was no waiting. I had everything falling into line, with the timing of events occurring seamlessly. I’m certain your laughing right now saying, “Really, Terri?” Yes, that was silly of me but then that's me. Soon enough I would realize God’s plan, unlike mine, had waiting written all through it.

The reason the waiting is hard is because waiting chips away at our trust in God's plan, timing, and control. Though I’m committed to trusting God there have been days I’m not sure I have the strength to remain encouraged and surrendered.

By the time January 2018 rolled around, I started wondering if this adventure was less about moving to South Carolina and more about winning a spiritual battle of trust over doubts and fears. One thing is certain, God’s faithfulness is written all over my life and I feel strongly that He deserves my trust. I determined in my heart to win this battle pushing through obstacles and trampling fears. Staying strong, in intentional trust, surrendered to God’s timing,  left me spiritually dehydrated and depleted. I have been using internal resources to win the battle of trust over fear and anxiety.

So, what would you tell me now that I’ve confessed this? I think you would say, “Terri, you know you can’t win a spiritual battle on your own. Why didn’t you ask God for His strength to fill you, to help you stand firm? Would you believe me if I said I forgot? I don’t know why I come to have this untimely “amnesia” when life ramps up and stress increases. Who wouldn’t ask for the things Jesus says is available to me: rest, peace, or carrying my burdens. I want my soul refreshed and renewed. Thank goodness for changing seasons!

Relaxing

There’s a new season on the way, a season of rest and refreshment. What has changed? Two things. I’ve finally awakened to the fact that the Lord has been waiting to fill my heart and to refresh my energy stores. Second, I changed my perspective, my focus. With my family now in South Carolina while I remain in Ohio, my responsibilities have diminished. I’m living with friends who are graciously housing me until details are finalized. It’s a place of peace, a respite. Life has gotten simpler. My pace has slowed. The change in my perspective from what isn’t happening to what is happening has caused me to see what God is doing for me. Seeing it, I'm able to accept this season of rest as the gift God intends it to be. Am I still waiting on God’s plan to unfold? Yes. I’m still fighting the urge to doubt and question our decisions and steps that brought us to this point. But, I’m intent on receiving and enjoying this brief time of rest that God has written into His plan for my life.

Let me emphasize this point: the moment I ask Him, God gives me what I need. The only One who is able to replenish my soul and help me stand strong is Him. I am so very thankful God deeply desires to partner with me, with you too, as we move through difficult seasons.

Seasons 2I wonder if you’ve experienced a season of rest or restoration after a difficult time? For example, have you received strength in spite of what were capable of? Or, maybe you received a boost of courage that you didn’t think possible. Perhaps, it was a profound sense of peace.

What we need to remember is there is no one, but God, who knows our life, our heart, our cares. He delights in you and is ready to refresh your soul the very moment you ask. Yet, asking is just the first step. If you ask for it, then anticipate it. The act of anticipating opens your spiritual eyes and ears as well as your heart to receive God’s provision. You don’t know the form or the way your need will be met, but you want to be in a mode of anticipating, a state of readiness, so you’re open to receive it.

You, dear friends, have an invitation from God for a never-ending conversation. No concern or need is too unimportant to share with God. So, share! To close, let your heart be lifted and your soul quenched by this refreshing truth.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)You are a delight to the Lord

He is living life with you

He concerns Himself with your troubles

He is ever ready to meet your needs

He hears your unique voice 

If you are interested in activating your inner encourager, see below for tips on how to be a self-encourager. Thanks for reading! Please share with those who need encouraged!

Tips for Becoming a Self-Encourager

One way I engage in self-encouragement is to find nourishment from God’s word. I search for a heart lifting gem in the Bible and then transform it into a digestible nugget that feeds my soul. For example, I take a verse like Psalm 31:7-8 and write it into a simple narrative, or I might bullet point it. Then, I add a picture that further embeds the verses or truths into my heart. I put it in a place that is easy for me to access or see. For example,

Woman

I have God’s unfailing love

God concerns Himself with my life.

He is ever ready to meet my needs,

calm my fears, and tend to my trouble.

He hears my unique voice.

I matter to God.

Psalm 31:7-8

See how I've reworded this verse in a form that helps me digest it and, receive it into my heart and mind so it can stick! I think that’s the main thing – determining how can you get the encouragement to stick with you.

Once you have created these encouragement gems for your use, then its easy to take this self-encouragement and gift it to someone else. When you’ve been through difficult times, you can see the signs in another woman or man. If they’re struggling with a current life experience that exhausting and depleting their soul, your encouragement may be the heart lift they need.

Another tip is to keep encouragement verses very close to you. I have two verses under my work computer screen that only I can see. I have one in my wallet. I have one in my car. The purpose is to have it handy so that when I feel a surge of overwhelm, fear, or anxiety then I have an immediate remedy. A sniff of lavender oil helps, too.

I hope these tips help you be a strong self-encourager! My prayer is that your heart sings with the knowledge that God is with you and for you! Believe it!

 


Let Yourself be Captivated

Hello and Welcome!

I am excitedly anticipating the beauty of spring and can't wait to explore all the newness that comes with this season. This post encourages you to let yourself be captivated with the nuances and details of life as it presents itself to you. Enjoy! 

Can you remember the last time you let yourself be caught up in the details? I’m not talking about critiquing an email or a proposal. I’m not referring to critically judging effort or choices. When was the last time you moved in close and used every sense to experience the moment?

Lukasz-szmigiel-33891-unsplash - Forest

It seems like it was another lifetime ago when I walked the local metro park to exchange the energy of the city for the color and comfort of the woods. My desire was to meld into the scenery, being present and anticipating the surprises it held for me. I heard sounds of thick branches falling and the rustling of the forest floor as squirrels searched for treasure. I enjoyed the falling rain on the tree leaves and the refreshing scent filling the air. The cardinal’s red splash of color against the brown limbs made me smile. I remember being intensely startled by the sight and sound of 20 deer bursting out of the woods into the field. Such power and grace in motion. What a “wow” moment that’s forever embedded in my memory.

God designs creation with unfathomable detail and it’s made known to you and me when we stop and consider it. What benefit do you receive by fixating on notes within a melody or the individual brush strokes of a painting? What do you gain by letting yourself be fascinated with the tiny nuances of anything? As for me, I have to counter those questions with, “Do I have the time to let myself be captivated?” The answer is yes and for good reason. 

Here's what you gain--

Appreciation 

You gain deeper appreciation for the talent and gifts of others that allows them to create beauty in the same way our Father has.

Real Time Presence 

By narrowing your focus on the details, it brings you very present in the present.

Renewed Curiosity

Letting yourself be fascinated helps you see and listen with more clarity in that moment and beyond.

________________________

Here’s what can change within you as you focus on the details--

A slowing down. A physical change where mind and body are at ease.

Your curiosity comes awakens and is activated.

You're open to the richness of life and creation.

__________________________

Karl-fredrickson-74973-unsplash - SpringSee, I’m doing a new thing! Are you not perceiving it? Isaiah 43:19

I know I’m moving so fast through my life that the details are a blur. I’m also aware that I’m missing “it”. I don’t understand how I got so that I only want the snippets of the story, the bottom line, and the point. I’m deliberating throwing away the details as insignificant. Who has time for “it”? Do you? As I choose to appreciate, be present in this moment, and be curious, I connect with creation, the person in front of me, and with God. God is doing new things all around me and connecting to Him is like connecting to wi-fi thereby increasing my sensitivity to the now. I want to perceive! I want to see God at work in my life, in the lives of others, and in this world. That won’t happen unless I’m paying attention.

Anthony-rossbach-59478-unsplash - SpringDo you ever wonder what you might be missing?

God likes details. He was all about the fine points when he instructed Moses and the Israelites on the preparation for the Tabernacle. If you read Exodus, the specific design, measures, colors, and ornamentation ordered by God is incredible. From clothing to woodwork, God had a design and was concerned with every tiny bit of it. But, it goes deeper than that. God is very much concerned about the nuances and details of every human life. Let me show you. In Genesis, God came to Hagar in the desert calling her by name. He consoles her and leads her back to the camp. With His eyes roaming the earth, He found Hagar. God’s detailed plan for her life didn’t include that desert experience and He led her out of it. God demonstrated his care of her. In John’s gospel, Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan focuses on the relationships in her life. Not to condemn, but to show her a different path. Is God really that concerned with the paths you take? Definitely. Even more, Psalm 139 says God knows when you sit, when you rise, perceives your thoughts, and is familiar with all your ways. God cares about every detail of your life. Because God is interested and invested in the details, I want to do the same. 

Maarten-van-den-heuvel-239204-unsplash - BulbsMarch Challenge

With spring’s arrival there will be plenty of opportunities to engage your senses and get curious about spring’s display as things that are dormant renew in infinite ways. I encourage and challenge you to appreciate the details that are revealed as bulbs sprout, buds open, birds sing, the earth thaws, and spring's colors burst forth bit by bit. It will mean you’ll have to stop moving, take a look, train your ear, slow the rhythm of your thoughts and appreciate. You might have to bend low or turn you head up toward the sky. My hope is that as you let yourself be captivated with the details you will experience "time standing still" moments. When was the last time you were so fully engrossed in an activity that you completely forgot about the element of time? If you can’t remember, then I believe you should try this challenge. Live fully present. Perceive what God is doing within you and around you! Be amazed by the glory of the Lord.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)
Blog Update

In the near future, I will be creating a Facebook (FB) author page and posting FB Live videos. The purpose is to provide real time encouragement for you as you pursue God and take that relationship to the next level. You can join in during the Live event and comment, or you can watch later. Comment anytime as I will get those and respond. I’ll post the link here and on my personal FB page when the Author Page is up and then you can Like It.

Always, I am thankful for you being part of this Hearts Encouraged group and I’m very open to your feedback and special requests. Just let me know. Thank you for sharing the blog fellow encouragers!

Fondly, Terri

 Credits

Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash  (Spring)

Photo by Anthony Rossbach on Unsplash (Bee)

Photo by Maarten-van-den-heuvel on Unsplash (Bulbs)



My Quest for Peace Stressed Me Out

Don’t you just hate it when you lose something? It’s even worse when you lose it a second time. I had peace, then it left me or I lost it. All I know is that my search for peace left me stressed out. You can’t experience peace if you’re pressuring yourself to be at peace! That’s just being crazy which is where I find myself frequently these days. Yes, I live better when my heart and mind is at peace but striving for it is not the method Jesus prescribes. So, how do I hold onto this treasure, make it my lived experience? Last month’s post focused on stress and how it can consume our life and steal from us. This month I’m encouraging you (and me, too) to let peace have its way in your heart and mind.

Peace 4 - Peace path

When I dwell on what peace can do, I think of so many wonderful possibilities. Peace is that healing balm for a hurting heart, a craving for a busy mom, or a sense of well-being that calms a worried mind. Peace soothes and refreshes over-whelmed senses. The Bible says peace is found in God’s promises, peace is Jesus’ gift to us, the peace of God stands guard over us, and the Holy Spirit counsels us to receive peace. The Bible is filled with encouragement on how to let peace take root in your heart and mind. My mission is to receive and hold onto the peace Jesus promises that I can have.

Peace 5 - Girl with Bible

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.

I do not give to you as the world gives.

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. (John 14:27, NIV)

When I’m face to face with trouble or an escalating problem, too often I head straight to the intersection of Worry Way and Anxiety Avenue. Unfortunately, my immediate reaction to turn to worry and fear-filled anxiety is deeply embedded. It’s a habit I need to resist for two reasons. First, my inner turmoil affects those who interact with me. My lack of peace can keep me from responding to others with the peace of Christ. I very much want people to find peace and leave with peace after they have been with me. The second reason to resist worry and fear is because Jesus tells us we should.

Jesus tells His followers to not let their hearts entertain fear because fear (being afraid) and peace cannot dwell together. Further, the apostle Paul told his beloved Timothy that he was not given a spirit of fear, but the Spirit of power! It’s a reminder for you and me, today. As a Christian, peace is a choice-point and the Holy Spirit will lead me to it. Choosing to let peace rule my heart instead of fear gives me power to resist worry, anxiety, and fear. It's my love relationship with Jesus that gives me access to his gift of peace. Realized or not, our souls hunger for a strong peace, a sustaining peace. We need a peace that fortifies and heals. By going too long without the peace of Christ, we become parched, weary, and lifeless. Jesus wants us to live with well with courage and with hope. His peace within us restores what stress, worry, and fear deplete.  

Peace 6 - Guard

“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7, NLT)

Can you conjure a mental image of peace as a guardian ready to defend your heart and mind from the poisoned arrows of dark fear and worry? Peace is your guardian when you let peace take control of your heart. Our God knows we cannot stand against the constant assault by the world day after day. While peace can be our response towards people and trouble, it's challenging. For that reason, we have the Holy Spirit as our necessary counselor leading us to peace.

Your first step to safeguard your heart and mind from turmoil, anxiety, and fear is this--let the peace of Jesus control, guard your heart. (Colossians 3:15, NLT)

Dark fears and uncontrolled worry poisons your mind leading you towards a pervading negative outlook. But, God’s peace draws you to a different experience—a calm quietness encapsulating your heart and mind. Jesus wants to carry your fears and worries, lifting that burden off your frame. You get to choose to exchange those burdens for peace. When peace is in charge of your heart and mind, then it controls your response instead of the circumstance.1

I’m writing this post about peace knowing full-well I struggle with the practice of peace. Frankly, I get frustrated with myself letting anxiety take hold. Why don’t I have more self-control and go straight to the peace path? Where I am weak, the Lord provides. Thankfully, the Spirit prompts me and nudges me to receive the alternative. I’m so grateful I’m not alone in the spiritual battle over my heart and mind. I’m developing the practice of seeking peace in heart and mind with the Lord as my teacher.

Peaece 3 - Reflections

Your Soul at Ease

Imagery is powerful and David’s 23rd Psalm portrays tranquility. Mindfully imagine the scene in these verses:

“You, Lord, make me lie down in green pastures, and You, Lord, lead me beside quiet waters. You alone restore my soul. And You, Lord, guide me to paths designed for me.”

This word picture creates within me a craving to experience what David writes--moments of quiet, contentment, and stillness of heart and mind. David’s words help me imagine those things that my Father in heaven wants me to receive: rest, restoration, calmness, and a relinquishing of every one of my worries and concerns.

Having all this information in your back pocket perhaps you’re thinking, “Yes, I agree that peace is all that you’ve described and I would love to have it and live peace-filled, but is it realistic?”

What I can and can’t do

Icon Hearts EncouragedI simply can’t manufacture peace out of my own resources.

Icon Hearts EncouragedI can ask the Holy Spirit to help me let peace supersaturate my heart and mind.

Icon Hearts EncouragedI can mindfully let His peace control my heart so it’s my automatic choice.

Icon Hearts EncouragedI can embed that sense of peace, the experience of God’s peace, as a remembrance so I will seek it.

Icon Hearts EncouragedI can choose peace as my response.

Icon Hearts EncouragedI can intentionally seek peace moments with God. 

Peace Prayer

May You, the God of Hope, fill me to the full with joy and peace as I trust in You. Please let me overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Romans 15:1, NIV paraphrased)

Praying this verse is your request for a joy and peace that super-saturates your soul and envelopes your mind. You’re saying you trust God to fill you with peace and you believe there is no limit on the duration or the amount of peace you can receive. Believe it, sister! You’re making this request with an expectation of receiving joy, peace, and hope so you can endure and remain encouraged in every situation.2

And don’t forget that the Holy Spirit leads you, shepherds you to peace, and helps you respond with peace. It’s worth the effort to resist fear and worry and hand the controls over to peace. It’s a way of living that Jesus died to give us.

I would love to know of your experiences with seeking and receiving peace. Your comments do so much to encourage others. Thank you so much to those who commented on the stress post in January. Blessings, Terri

References

1 - Psalm 9:10; Isaiah 26:3; Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (2nd printing new ed. 2011). Page 891. Hendrickson: Peabody, MA.

2  - Romans 15:4-6


Stressed?

Another Saturday and another trip by me and my husband to the Lowe’s in Columbus, Ohio. These frequent trips were happening because we were the proud owners of a lot in South Carolina. A lot begs for a house to be built and we took the challenge. We weren’t novices at house building but this was different and it felt like an adventure. This house would require us to oversee every tiny detail from selecting the house plans to finding a builder to doing what we were doing that day. All of it from Ohio. On this Lowe’s trip, we were in the lighting isle, heads up, and staring at the brightness and dimensions. I was daunted as I considered every room, every crevice I might want to have lit. Looking down at my list in hand, I felt a heaviness in my chest. I rubbed it to make it go away. Not again, I thought, what’s wrong with me, now? I shifted by mind back to the lights just wanting to get it over with.

Stressed person

Have you ever found yourself experiencing internal turmoil because of the stress in your life?

I happen to be one of those people who haphazardly manages my stress. Sure, you can lecture me on all the significant health effects stress has on the body, but I already know all that as a nurse. And, I won’t bore you with the health statistics but trust me when I say that the terms significant health effects and stress will always be in the same sentence. It’s true that low level stress can have positive effects on our performance, but constant and sustained stress is bad for us at every level.

Every time I walked into Lowe’s to make house selections, I felt like a python was squeezing me to death. Of course, you saw the connection as you read the story, but I couldn’t put it together at the time. The stress kept me from doing so. Multiple stressors were tapping my resources and this one women show was starting to bomb. I was worrying about everyone and everything. When I was told the chest heaviness and stomach issues were causing panic anxiety, it didn’t sit well with me. My first thought labeled that as ridiculous and lame. Panic anxiety? I couldn’t believe I had that much stress to cause that kind of anxiety. The physician prompted me to share the matters and concerns in my life. As  I heard the list with my own ears, only then did I realized the burden I was carrying. One stressor heaped onto another had brought me to my knees.

Stress-2902537_640Stress steals

What has stress stolen from you? Sleep? Peace of mind? Health? Life hours? Self-control? Joy? Laughter? If you spend any time thinking about it, you’ll find that stress causes casualties. Excessive stress steals and it can draw you away from God. It’s really important to monitor the forms of stress and the amount of stress in your life. Believe me, I don’t want to get to the point where my body tells me I’m on overload especially when I can proactively monitor the stress in my life. I have to let go of what I can’t control and ask the Lord to lead me through what I can control. I deny myself peace when I fail to remember my lived experience of His provision over the course of my life.

Stress quotes-933816_640Jesus knows

If you consider everything Jesus went through during his time on earth, you’ll find he fully and completely understands the stressors in your life.

Jesus knows the stress associated with meeting demands. The people came to him day and night for healing, prayer, comfort, miracles, and teaching. He knows your weariness as you try to meet the needs of those in your circle.

Jesus understands your difficulty managing the conflict between God’s commands and daily influences. Jesus was sought by Satan, faced political powers, and others in authority who tempted and mocked him.

Jesus came face to face with betrayal and rejection as those in his intimate circle deserted him. He sees the toll it takes on your heart when you experience the same.

Jesus’ responded to the death of Lazarus and John the Baptist with great sadness. He deeply understands the stress you experience of losing those you love.

We were not meant to face high stress situations and traumatic events alone. Human to human, heart to heart is how we grow endurance, resilience, and hope. When we allow ourselves to be supported by God and His people, then we find a strength we can never create on our own. It is not a sign of weakness to reach out for help. I used to think needing help meant I was insufficient to handle it on my own and that was a bad thing. Now, I know better. Asking for help is a sign of wisdom and the way to live life well during stressful and overwhelming situations. There is a tendency for us to think we have to be strong and endure but if we do this out of our own strength we will eventually falter and crash. Don’t let your pride say, “No thanks” to God’s help or any other help as it comes to you.

God will meet you and lift you up  because of His great love for you

Intentionally choose to deeply trust God. There’s nothing in your life that’s too unimportant for God. He wants to get in it with you. Isaiah 40 from The Message Bible helps to explain God’s desire to meet you in your immediate need.

“Why would you ever complain…saying, “God has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles. They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.” (Isaiah 40:27-31)

Peace-3010107_640Your faith is power-packed to help you remain resilient

In the studies conducted on resilience, a key factor was identified and a question was posed: Why are some individuals able to “bounce back” better than others? This is how the term resiliency gained importance. The studies discovered that some of us have developed protective strategies as we are confronted with stress and one such strategy is spirituality. For believers in Christ, one of the key protective elements is faith, hope, and trust. We see God as a source of security, a sure thing, when all else seems to be crumbling. With our faith built on the foundation of God’s promises, we can exist within the circumstance, hold on to the good, and move through the stress or traumatic event one small step at a time. Truly, that’s all we are able to do--take one step at a time, believing God has hold of us, and He will stoop down to meet us in it.

Rely on God for…

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)God provides relationships, particularly unlikely relationships or people who come into your life for just a season--for such a time as this.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)God provides inner direction through the Holy Spirit. You need only focus on quieting your mind and heart in order to hear.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)God provides the capacity for you to endure.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)God speaks tenderly to your heart to increase your confidence in your ability to stand strong. God provides wisdom.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)God can help you see how He is working and how He is using you as a source of strength to others as they view your example of strength and endurance. And, when you can’t be strong, He will provide those resources through people who will come along aside.

What worries will you let go of and place into the Lord’s care? Will you receive the peace of Christ letting it rule rather than stress? Is stress stealing something from you? Take it back! Are your thoughts taking you down the path of worry or anxiety? Put up a mental roadblock and capture those thoughts. You’ve got this!

Thank you for reading and I pray peace fills your heart and mind. Please share this post to encourage others.  Blessings to you, Terri

 

References

Mayo Clinic link for Healthy Lifestyle – Stress Management:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/HLV-20049495

Impact of Stress on the Body

Bartol, G. M. and Courts, N. F. (2005). Holistic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice. The Psychophysiology of Bodymind Healing. B. Dossey, C. Guzetta, and L. Keegan (Eds). Sudbury MA: Jones & Bartlett; Graham, J. E., Robles, T. F., Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Malarkey, W. B., Bissell, M. G., & Glaser, R. (2006). Hostility and pain are related to inflammation in older adults. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 20, 389-400; Tully, P. J., Cosh, S. M., & Baune, B. T. (2013). A review of the affects of worry and generalized anxiety disorder upon cardiovascular health and coronary heart disease. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 18 (6), 627-644. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13548506.2012.749355.

Jesus Knows

Luke 22:39-44 (stress of upcoming death); Matthew 14:13-16 (demands and needs of the people); Matthew 4:1-11 (tempted); Luke 22:1-6, 54-62 (betrayed and deserted); Matthew 27:27-31 (mocked); Luke 23 (crucifixion); John 11:35 (wept); Matthew 14:6-12 (John’s death); Matthew 27:11-26 (Pilate, religious leaders)

Resiliency

Resilience to loss and potential trauma. Bonanno, G. A., Westphal, M. & Mancici, A. D. (2011). Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 7, 511-535. doi: 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032210-104526

Resilience to loss and potential trauma. Bonanno, G. A., Westphal, M. & Mancici, A. D. (2011). Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 7, 511-535. doi: 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032210-104526;

Navigating hardships in old age: exploring the relationship between spirituality and resilience in later life. Manning, L. K. (2012). Qualitative Health Research, 23 (4) 568-575. doi: 10.1177/1049732312471730

Spirituality and resilience among post-graduate university students. Gnanaprakash, C. (2013). Journal of Health Management, 15 (3), 383-396. doi: 10.1177/0972063413492046

Resiliency in action: Practical ideas for overcoming risks and building strengths in youth, families, and communities. Henderson, N. (2014).  Retrieved from http://www.resiliency.com/free-articles-resources/hard-wired-to-bounce-back/